Missing Links

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About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.


  1. I disagree with the comparison of R’ Slifkin’s books agreeing with evolution and an old universe, as well as (here) R’ Farber’s acceptance of multiple human authorship of the Bible (albeit divinely inspired), to the Jacobs Affair. I don’t think they’re at all comparable.

    As Gil stated in 2006 (see above link), Jacobs was a product of Manchester and Gateshead, moving into the upper echelon of mainstream British Jewish leadership. The then-Chief Rabbi vetoed his appointment as dean of Jews College, over his rejection of the 8th and 9th Principles of Maimonies (the Torah is the product of special Mosaic revelation, and is unchangeable).

    On the other hand, R’ Slifkin was a young man on the edges of Haredi society, with an out-of-the-norm interest in animals. R’ Farber is a medium-big deal in the LWMO establishment, whose institutions are already considered fringe by the Orthodox (Modern and Haredi) establishment. His weird ideas on revelation just confirm the mainstream’s attitude towards his organization – we thought they were krum, here’s proof.

    I don’t see Farber’s apostasy causing a major rift in American Orthodoxy. It may widen an already-present rift, but he personally did not create it.

    It’s comparing grapefruits and kumquats.

  2. Jon: Thank you for your response. I disagree with two things you stated. First, I don’t believe that R. Natan Slifkin should be in this discussion and I did not bring him into it.

    Regarding Louis Jacobs, I agree that he was more prominent than Zev Farber is. However, as Elliot Cosgrove showed in his doctoral dissertation, Jacobs was very much on the left fringe prior to his “Affair”.

    There is more to say about this but I do not want to discuss Farber personally, nor do I see much need. Two incidents do not have to be identical to be comparable.

  3. R. Willig writes on Torah Web,

    “Furthermore, historically, the capacity to make the ultimate sacrifice of kiddush Hashem, forfeiting one’s life to sanctify Hashem’s name when called upon to do so, is linked to, and accompanied by, pure and simple faith. (Chasid Yaavetz, Or Hachaim Chapter 5).”

    Aharon Rose(“The Haredim: A Defense”, Azure, Summer 2006) discusses the Chasid Yaavetz.

    “Thus did Rabbi Eliezer Schach, the revered leader of the non-Hasidic Haredi community in Israel until his death in 2001, frequently make reference in his speeches to the testimony of an exile from Spain, the Hasid Yabetz, who described the behavior of the Jewish intelligentsia: “And the majority who boasted of their wisdom were eradicated and were not exiled. Only the women and the simple, uneducated folk sacrificed themselves.”

    In Note 45 he writes:

    “It should be emphasized that the great historian of the Jewish dispersal in Christian Spain, Yitzhak Baer, accepts the authority of the testimony of the Hasid Yabetz (Rabbi Joseph Yabetz). See Yitzhak Baer, A History of the Jews in Christian Spain, vol. 2, From the Fourteenth Century to the Expulsion, trans. Louis Schoffman (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1978), p. 443. Other historians have disagreed with Baer. See Israel M. Ta-Shma, Studies in Medieval Rabbinic Literature, vol. 2, Spain (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 2004), pp. 279-296. [Hebrew] See the discussion of Avishai Ben Haim, Man of Vision: The Ultra-Orthodox Ideology of Rabbi Schach (Jerusalem: Mozaika, 2004), pp. 149-159. [Hebrew] For the citation by Rabbi Schach see Eliezer Menachem Schach, Letters and Articles, part 4 (Bnei Brak, 1980), p. 154. [Hebrew]”

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